Review: Hear Me Howl
Image: Old Red Lion Theatre
Jess is turning 30 when she presses pause on the conventional life she's been living and joins a post-punk band.
Sure, some might argue that punk is dead, others could say she should really stick to the day job, but the resounding concern is: shouldn't she be settling down by now?
From behind her drum kit, warming up for her very first gig, Jess lurches defiantly into an unknown future.
From writer Lydia Rynne (Soho Theatre Writers, NFTS Odeon Scholar, Sundance Ignite and iShorts/Funny Girls finalist), director Kay Michael (Theatre Royal Plymouth Assistant Director) & producer Caley Powell of Lights Down Productions comes HEAR ME HOWL, a bitingly honest portrayal of one woman's personal revolution.
Hear Me Howl returns after a sold-out work-in-progress run at The Landor Space in March and The Plymouth Fringe in May.
You don't often get ear plugs supplied along with your ticket at the box office.
"It gets a bit noisy up there", was the polite explanation from the business side of the counter.
That seems logical, if a little unusual, given that the synopsis includes mention of a drum kit.
And it's that artefact that sits centre stage as we take our seats in the theatre and tear the packet of ear plugs open in order to have them at the ready should they be needed.
For much of this 70 minute monologue, though, we're never in any real danger of having our ear drums torn to shreds by deafening sound.
Alice Pitt-Carter's Jess doesn't immediately jump onto her drum stool and thrash away at her kit when she first appears, and for much of the duration she simply teases us with the odd flick of a symbol, or a tap on the high-hat.
That leaves us wondering if we're ever going to hear her actually play the instrument in ernest.
In a way, that doesn't matter because Lydia Rynne's monologue is only partially about playing drums.
It's actually a play about what someone wants to do with their life and how the pressures of normality - settling down, having babies, creating a home and such - impose a straight-jacket on our individuality and creativity, taking us along a well-trodden and predictable path.
Jess finds herself at a crossroads in her life.
She has a humdrum job which bombards her with a daily flood of emails and she lives in an uninspiring flat.
It's a pretty typical existence for a woman about to turn the milestone corner into her 30s.
And when she finds herself pregnant, it's definitely time to decide whether to make her rather traditional life even more traditional or take a plunge into the unknown and become a post-punk drummer.
Lydia Rynne's novel approach to the monologue seizes on something that many people, especially those in their 20s will be able to identify with - and those who are well past that age will readily remember the time as a period of momentous decisions.
Alice Pitt-Carter's quick-fire delivery in the early stages finds the right tone to suggest someone who's almost surviving on the edge, as she rattles-off details about her current lifestyle.
As the play progresses, her pace gradually and subtly changes as her thoughts and ideas about the course of her life start to distill.
Ms Pitt-Carter readily establishes a genial rapport with the audience, soliciting attentively sympathetic accord because we all know where's she's at, and there's a ready supply of humour in Lydia Rynne's well-constructed script.
There's little surprise about the ultimate direction Jess's life will take - it's pretty-well telegraphed right from the start.
That's not the real point though - what matters here is how she makes the decision and why, and in her self-discovery we find something invigorating and empowering.
If you want to know whether Ms Pitt-Carter actually gives us a performance on her drum kit, you'll need to see the show for yourself.
And you should, because the play has a clarity of purpose that needs little effort to decipher, yet capably offers a thought-provoking proposition, that's relevant to all, wrapped-up in a winning performance from Alice Pitt-Carter.
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ActDrop listing for Old Red Lion Theatre
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